Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Everyone Brave is Forgiven - Book Review

I enjoyed Little Bee and Gold by Chris Cleave so I was excited to see a new book from his this spring.  Everyone Brave is Forgiven is his newest book and I was immediately enamored with this World War II novel. How can one possibly write something fresh and new about this time period? I've read many novels centered on World War II and I love several. So many different people suffered through the war and everyone had their own story, so I suppose the opportunities are limitless. Cleave writes a new story in Everyone Brave is Forgiven by focusing on an unlikely heroine and the early days of the war in London and on Malta.

Mary North is a young, wealthy idealist ready for adventure on the eve of World War II. As soon as war is declared, she signs up and is assigned to teach at a local school in London. Though she is initially disappointed by the assignment, she discovers a love for the children and for teaching. When the children are all evacuated from the city, Mary is left with a classroom of children who for one reason or another just don't "fit" in the country.

As Mary navigates through love and danger and friendship, she is often foolish and sometimes self-serving. She's naive and regularly makes destructive choices, yet she's a character that gets under the reader's skin and one sincerely hopes for her survival and success. I enjoyed her quick humor and clever wit as she banters with her best friend and with Tom, the administrator of the schools. It is disheartening to watch the dreams of the young shattered by the brutality of war. Cleave wrote a very poignant and beautiful novel that I found meaningful and emotionally stirring.

I found myself reading large sections of this book each night, unwilling to stop. I was compelled to read more of Mary, her friend Hilda, Tom, and his friend Alistair. I was especially interested in learning more about the Siege of Malta. Previously, I was not familiar with this event in World War II. Cleave writes with dignity and power and shows both the brutality and the compassion of man; the desire to at once cease to exist and simultaneously survive.

I've read some great books this year that I really enjoyed but Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is definitely at the top of my list.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is published by Simon and Schuster and released on May 3, 2016.

No comments: